Apr 23 2021

What’s Up in Tokyo: April–May 2021

by The Editors

Tokyo museums and galleries heralded the spring season with a spate of exhibitions, albeit without opening receptions due to the ongoing pandemic. Fears over a spike in Covid-19 variants mean renewed restrictions on public gatherings are likely to come in force in the near future, so do check with the venues before planning a visit.

Installation view of NOE AOKI’s All that Floats Down, 2019, iron, glass, 5.8 × 13.7 × 15 m, at “All that Floats Down," Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum, 2019. Copyright the artist. Photo by Tadasu Yamamoto. Courtesy Anomaly, Tokyo.

Noe Aoki: “Mesocyclone”


Apr 17–May 22

For “Mesocyclone,” sculptor Noe Aoki has transformed Anomaly’s space with a new site-specific, spiralling iron structure, accompanied by new prints and drawings. Fascinated by the primordial history of iron, the artist has worked with the metal over the past few decades, cutting industrial iron sheets into hoops and rods that she welds together in monumental constructions.

MAIKO HARUKI, Hello Kitty, 2021, type C print, 61.2 × 89.6 cm. Copyright the artist. Courtesy Taro Nasu, Tokyo.

Maiko Haruki: “Still Life”

Taro Nasu

Apr 3–May 15

Maiko Haruki’s fifth solo show at Taro Nasu, “Still Life,” unveils a new series of black-and-white photographs depicting artfully arranged soft toys. Shot in the style of studio portraits and promotional stills of 20th century film stars, Haruki’s images of kawaii pop culture icons like Hello Kitty are a wry, thought-provoking comment on the alienation of consumerist society.

XAVIER VEILHAN, Tony, 2020, birch plywood, acrylic paint, 80 × 60 × 2.5 m. Copyright the artist / ADAGP, 2021. Photo by Claire Dorn. Courtesy Perrotin, Hong Kong / Seoul / Tokyo / Shanghai / Paris / New York.

Xavier Veilhan: “Chemin Vert”


March 30–May 29

“Chemin Vert” foregrounds French artist Xavier Veilhan’s formal investigations into the boundaries between figuration and abstraction, between object and image. For Tony and Debora (both 2020), the artist digitally simplified photographs of abstract sculptural forms and then painted the images on plywood. The show also features Veilhan’s sculptural Mobiles as well as ink drawings of geometric shapes.

KWON YOUNG-WOO, Untitled, 1984, gouache, Chinese ink on Korean paper, 115 × 115 cm. Copyright the artist’s estate. Courtesy the estate and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles / New York / Tokyo.

Kwon Young-woo

Blum & Poe

April 3–May 22

Kwon Young-woo’s solo debut in Japan spotlights the Dansaekhwa luminary’s experimental ink works, featuring rips, scratches, and ripples that punctuate monochromatic washes of ink. Trained in traditional ink painting, Kwon explored methods of manipulating the paper’s surface through soaking it with ink and perforating it with his fingernails or tools, in keeping with Dansaekhwa’s focus on repetitive mark-making and materiality.

SAMSON YOUNG, The World Falls Apart Into Facts, 2019/20, still from two-channel video with sound: 6 min 17 sec and 27 min 24 sec. Copyright the artist. Courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore / Shanghai.

Samson Young: “The World Falls Apart Into Facts”

Ota Fine Arts

Apr 13–Jun 5

Artist-composer Samson Young’s video installation The World Falls Apart Into Facts (2019) untangles two complicated histories of transcultural musical transmission: the spread of the Chinese folk song “Molihua” to Europe via the British Empire, and the evolution of Chinese Tang-dynasty court music into Japanese Togaku. This research is recounted in one channel of the video, while the other portrays musicians dressed as fruit performing a composition by Young. 

ANDRO WEKUA, Wings II, 2020, oil paint, silkscreen ink and varnish on aluminum panel, 141.8 × 202.1 cm. Copyright the artist. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York / Brussels; Sprüth Magers, Berlin / London / Los Angeles; and Take Ninagawa, Tokyo.

Andro Wekua: “Drift Angle”

Take Ninagawa

Apr 24–Jun 12

Take Ninagawa presents “Drift Angle,” a solo exhibition of Andro Wekua. The Georgian-born, Berlin-based artist is known for his evocative, vibrantly hued paintings of collaged imagery and eerie mannequin sculptures that allude to the unstable separation of reality and artifice.

Installation view of ROBIN WHITE and RUHA FIFITA’s Seen Along the Avenue from the Ko e Hala Hangatonu: The Straight Path series, 2015–16, earth pigments and natural dyes on ngatu (barkcloth), 24 × 3.8 m, at “Seen Along the Avenue,” National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Melbourne, 2016. Photo by Michael Fudakowski. Courtesy NGV and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo.

“Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging – 16 Women Artists from around the World”

Mori Art Museum

Apr 22–Sep 26

“Another Energy” surveys the groundbreaking practices of 16 female artists above the age of 70 from 14 countries. Featuring works ranging from Cairo-born Anna Boghiguian’s new installation The Silk Road (2021) to Robin White’s collaborative tapestries celebrating Pacific Islander traditions, the show centers artists whose decades-long careers trace the transformative challenges of their changing contexts.  

SACHIKO KAZAMA, Nonhuman Crossing, 2013, woodcut print, panel, Japanese paper, oil ink, 180 × 360 cm. Courtesy Mori Art Museum, Tokyo.

“The Absence of Mark Manders” / “rhizomatiks_multiplex” / Tokyo Contemporary Art Award 2019–2021 Exhibition

On view at MOT, Dutch artist Mark Manders’s solo show brings together sculptures and objects in a gesamtkunstwerk reflecting on notions of absence, imagination, and selfhood. Concurrently, MOT is celebrating the 15th anniversary of interdisciplinary collective Rhizomatiks with a hybrid physical and digital exhibition featuring data-visualization artworks, live performances, offline/online installations, and a “Social Distancing Communication Platform” catering to our new socio-technological reality. Finally, Sachiko Kazama and Motoyuki Shitamichi, the winners of the inaugural Tokyo Contemporary Art Award (2019–21), are showcasing old and new works, including the former’s new series of large-scale woodblock prints and the latter’s archive of photographs and objects pertaining to the history of the Setouchi islands. 

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